4/20/2012

c.1945 Kay 3/4 Tailpiece Guitar




This old Kay dates from the mid-1940s and sports a tailpiece and floating bridge design. The neck is mahogany, the back is laminate mahogany, the top is solid spruce, and the sides appear to be the middle layers of a laminate (the fellow I purchased this from thought someone had removed the outer layer of mahogany laminate and his guess is probably right on the money, though whoever did that did a decent job of hiding it).

At any rate, it's a "size 5" guitar, like a Martin size 5, which means it's approximately the size of a modern baby Taylor -- 21 1/2" scale and small body. What's interesting about this guitar is that the neck profile and fretboard feel give the darnedest impression that one is playing a late-30s Gibson-made Kalamazoo guitar. Just something about that neck shape!


There had been a number of funky repairs done to this over time, but my major work included a neck reset, reglue to a hairline crack at the rear of the headstock, cleaning, fret level/dress, and setup. These tuners have also been lubed.


Note how there appears to be a filled hole probably from a strap button at some point.


I had to back-fill the heel's side slot due to previous alteration and a cruddy DIY "neck reset."



See those odd sides?

There are a couple small hairline cracks and one tiny puncture crack on the sides but they're all stable and good to g.


Here's that repaired headstock hairline.


I remounted the tailpiece with a slightly longer screw since the original one was tiny.



Cute headstock. The mahogany neck with rosewood board is pretty nice.


Brass frets, MOP dots.


I hate to not re-use original parts, so instead of just making an entirely new bridge I added rosewood "feet" to the original to raise it post-neck reset.


Old Kay label in the soundhole.


The tortoise trim looks pretty snazzy.



Overall -- funky and fun and VERY portable. This is just a size up from a baritone ukulele and because of the lightly-braced top it gets a respectable bottom end as well.

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